Serial investor and bitcoin advocate Bill Gross has announced his immediate retirement from active bond investment to manage his own funds. Gross who was dubbed the “bond king” for his role in active bond-trading almost 50 years ago, achieved fame and notoriety in equal measure for his investment advice to pick bitcoin over central banks.
Describing central banks as a “casino” in a 2016 investment letter for the Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Fund, Gross painted a picture of a post-apocalyptic future where existing financial paradigms are overwhelmed and replaced by cryptocurrency.
Unsurprisingly, the position won him few friends in mainstream financial circles, and he has ended a sparkling career as one of America’s most successful fixed-income investors over the past 50 years, with the perhaps undeserved reputation of a maverick.
Despite his ostensibly positive position on cryptocurrency, it must be noted that Gross had a somewhat complicated opinion on bitcoin, variously praising it as an attempt to store value similar to gold and at other times describing it as a volatile currency with little suitability for the needs of modern commerce. When Warren Buffet described bitcoin as a “mirage” in 2016, Gross famously countered saying:
“Bitcoin and privately negotiated blockchain technologies among a small group of global banks are just a few examples of attempts to stabilize the value of current assets in terms of future purchasing power. Gold would be another example.”
He wasn’t an unqualified bitcoin bull , but his comments were nevertheless far more favorable than those of most analysts on Wall Street.
He also heavily critiqued the central markets, comparing them to casinos heavily funded by the government who kept on dolling out cash irrespective of losses made. In his regularly-cited 2016 Janus investment outlook letter, Gross said:
“Our financial markets have become a Vegas/Macau/Monte Carlo casino, wagering that an unlimited supply of credit generated by central banks can successfully reflate global economies and reinvigorate nominal GDP growth to lower but acceptable norms in today’s highly levered world.”
While it remains unclear whether Gross did succeed in convincing investors to ditch traditional fiat-based investments in favour of crypto, his impact as a relatively early driver of crypto investment sentiment remains undeniable.
Going forward, Gross, 74, will handle only his personal funds and manage his family’s charity organizations – The Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation which in 2018 gave 28 NGO’S a total of $21,450,000.
Bill Gross Image from REUTERS / Jim Young